MudSong 30: Green fires lit on the soil of the earth

A pine letting loose its pollen.

A pine letting loose its pollen. Source

 

The Enkindled Spring
—D.H. Lawrence

This spring as it comes bursts up in bonfires green,
Wild puffing of emerald trees, and flame-filled bushes,
Thorn-blossom lifting in wreaths of smoke between
Where the wood fumes up and the watery, flickering rushes.

I am amazed at this spring, this conflagration
Of green fires lit on the soil of the earth, this blaze
Of growing, and sparks that puff in wild gyration,
Faces of people streaming across my gaze.

And I, what fountain of fire am I among
This leaping combustion of spring? My spirit is tossed
About like a shadow buffeted in the throng
Of flames, a shadow that’s gone astray, and is lost.

MudSong 29: In the lawn

Anagramming
—Sally Bliumis Dunn

Silent, the word

lifting off, only
its letters

in the white air
of the page, swirl,

rearrange,
then brighten

as though at dawn,
a flock of robins,

struggling to gather
in the wind;

anagram’s answer
lands on the lawn,

brown heads lowered
into thin green blades.

For burrowing worms,
they listen .

 

"Robins" by Leslie White, used with permission from the artist.

“Robins” by Leslie White, used with permission from the artist.

MudSong 28: Dapple-dawn-drawn

The Windhover
By Gerard Manley Hopkins

To Christ our Lord

I caught this morning morning’s minion, king-
    dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
    Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,
    As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding
    Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird, – the achieve of, the mastery of the thing!
Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here
    Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion
Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!
   No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down sillion
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
    Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermilion.
American Kestrel: adult female taking flight. © William Jobes, PA, September 2008

American Kestrel: adult female taking flight. © William Jobes, PA, September 2008

MudSongs 22 & 23: Dear, dark dapple of plush!

 

Two poems by Mary Oliver. 

White Owl Flies Into and Out of the Field

Coming down out of the freezing sky
with its depths of light,
like an angel, or a Buddha with wings,
it was beautiful, and accurate,
striking the snow and whatever was there
with a force that left the imprint
of the tips of its wings — five feet apart —
and the grabbing thrust of its feet,
and the indentation of what had been running
through the white valleys of the snow —
and then it rose, gracefully,
and flew back to the frozen marshes
to lurk there, like a little lighthouse,
in the blue shadows —
so I thought:
maybe death isn’t darkness, after all,
but so much light wrapping itself around us —
as soft as feathers —
that we are instantly weary of looking, and looking,
and shut our eyes, not without amazement,
and let ourselves be carried,
as through the translucence of mica,
to the river that is without the least dapple or shadow,
that is nothing but light — scalding, aortal light —
in which we are washed and washed
out of our bones.

 

 

Little Owl Who Lives in the Orchard

His beak could open a bottle,
and his eyes – when he lifts their soft lids –
go on reading something
just beyond your shoulder –
Blake, maybe,
or the Book of Revelation.

Never mind that he eats only
the black-smocked crickets,
and the dragonflies if they happen
to be out late over the ponds, and of course
the occasional festal mouse.
Never mind that he is only a memo
from the offices of fear –

it’s not size but surge that tells us
when we’re in touch with something real,
and when I hear him in the orchard
fluttering
down the little aluminum
ladder of his scream –
when I see his wings open, like two black ferns,

a flurry of palpitations
as cold as sleet
rackets across the marshlands
of my heart
like a wild spring day.

Somewhere in the universe,
in the gallery of important things,
the babyish owl, ruffled and rakish,
sits on its pedestal.
Dear, dark dapple of plush!
A message, reads the label,
from that mysterious conglomerate:
Oblivion and Co.
The hooked head stares
from its house of dark, feathery lace.
It could be a valentine.

Related owlish posts: Snowy Owls: a graceful poem in flightNews & CuriositiesMudSongs Seven & Eight: O, she says.

MudSong Nineteen: That which comes carefully out of Nowhere

Spring is like a perhaps hand
—E. E. Cummings

III

Spring is like a perhaps hand
(which comes carefully
out of Nowhere)arranging
a window,into which people look(while
people stare
arranging and changing placing
carefully there a strange
thing and a known thing here)and

changing everything carefully

spring is like a perhaps
Hand in a window
(carefully to
and fro moving New and
Old things,while
people stare carefully
moving a perhaps
fraction of flower here placing
an inch of air there)and

without breaking anything.

 

The Snowdrop and the Crocus by Abraham Pether. Visit link for many more gorgeous botanical illustrations.

The Snowdrop and The Crocus by Abraham Pether. Follow link to enjoy more amazing botanical illustrations.

MudSong Eighteen: The dark angels

Barn Swallow from The Arm & Hammer and Cow Brand Baking Soda "Useful Birds of America."

Barn Swallow from The Arm & Hammer and Cow Brand Baking Soda Useful Birds of America.

 

Angels
—R.T. Smith

High in the April barn
the swallows are worshiping
dry straw, the gold motes
ascending, so many
dusty wings. If there is
milk cooling like moonlight
in brimfull tins, if
flies circle in the shadow
of Hereford drool, if sprigs
of henbit and sage cloister
in the corner, the birds
still swirl like the very
essence of vigor. Backlit
to dazzlement by afternoon
sunlight, they embroider
the air. Here in the steeple
beneath the weathercock’s
windblown ache and swing,
the dark angels create
order, the choral rush and
flutter of wings. Their
eyes are smooth as a thumbed
rosary, and where mortals’
bones would channel marrow,
they have only the buoyant
and holy air. Nevertheless,
the blasphemous farm cat
hungry for sacrament slinks
up the ladder’s rungs — his
sepal eyes, thorns for claws,
a rose petal for his pagan
and ravenous tongue.

 

(In case you didn’t guess I’m trying to catch up on the MudSongs before March’s end!)

MudSong Twelve: The slishity-slosh

 

Rain
— Shel Silverstein

 

I opened my eyes
And looked up at the rain,
And it dripped in my head
And flowed into my brain,
And all that I hear as I lie in my bed
Is the slishity-slosh of the rain in my head.

I step very softly,
I walk very slow,
I can’t do a handstand–
I might overflow,
So pardon the wild crazy thing I just said–
I’m just not the same since there’s rain in my head.

 

Source.

A twofer! Source.

 

For more March MudSongs by Neruda, Salter, and Dickinson (and more!), click here.

MudSong Two: It was snowing / And it was going to snow.

 

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird
— Wallace Stevens

I
Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird.

II
I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds.

III
The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the pantomime.

IV
A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman and a blackbird
Are one.

V
I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.

VI
Icicles filled the long window
With barbaric glass.
The shadow of the blackbird
Crossed it, to and fro.
The mood
Traced in the shadow
An indecipherable cause.

VII
O thin men of Haddam,
Why do you imagine golden birds?
Do you not see how the blackbird
Walks around the feet
Of the women about you?

VIII
I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
But I know, too,
That the blackbird is involved
In what I know.

IX
When the blackbird flew out of sight,
It marked the edge
Of one of many circles.

X
At the sight of blackbirds
Flying in a green light,
Even the bawds of euphony
Would cry out sharply.

XI
He rode over Connecticut
In a glass coach.
Once, a fear pierced him,
In that he mistook
The shadow of his equipage
For blackbirds.

XII
The river is moving.
The blackbird must be flying.

XIII
It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird sat
In the cedar-limbs.

 

 

A True Account Of Talking To The Sun At Fire Island


A few years ago, while I was visiting my old home in Maine, my friend Chris left this poem of Frank O’Hara’s on the doorknob. It was a little gift for my host, Laura, handwritten in ink with some watercolor embellishments. It was beautiful. And this morning, with a whole brass section of sun staring me down in the kitchen, I remembered.

The Sun woke me this morning loud
and clear, saying "Hey! I've been 
trying to wake you up for fifteen 
minutes.  Don't be so rude, you are 
only the second poet I've ever chosen 
to speak to personally
                       so why
aren't you more attentive? If I could 
burn you through the window I would
to wake you up.  I can't hang around 
here all day." 
              "Sorry, Sun, I stayed 
up late last night talking to Hal."

"When I woke up Mayakovsky he was 
a lot more prompt" the Sun said
petulantly.  "Most people are up 
already waiting to see if I'm going 
to put in an appearance."
                          I tried 
to apologize "I missed you yesterday."
"That's better" he said.  "I didn't 
know you'd come out."  "You may be wondering why I've come so close?"
"Yes" I said beginning to feel hot 
and wondering if maybe he wasn't
   burning me 
anyway.  
       "Frankly I wanted to tell you
I like your poetry.  I see a lot
on my rounds and you're okay.  You
   may
not be the greatest thing on earth, but
you're different.  Now, I've heard some 
say you're crazy, they being excessively
calm themselves to my mind, and other 
crazy poets think that you're a boring
reactionary.  Not me.
                     Just keep on
like I do and pay no attention.  You'll 
find that some people always will 
    complain about the atmosphere, 
       either too hot 
or too cold too bright or too dark, days
too short or too long. 
                      If you don't appear
at all one day they think you're lazy 
or dead.  Just keep right on, I like it. 

And don't worry about your lineage
poetic or natural.  The Sun shines on
the jungle, you know, on the tundra
the sea, the ghetto.  Wherever you
    were 
I knew it and saw you moving.  I was 
    waiting 
for you to get to work.

                        And now that you
are making your own days, so to 
   speak, 
even if no one reads you but me 
you won't be depressed.  Not 
everyone can look up, even at me.  It 
hurts their eyes."
       "Oh Sun, I'm so grateful to you!"

"Thanks and remember I'm watching.  
  It's 
easier for me to speak to you out
here.  I don't have to slide down
between buildings to get your ear.
I know you love Manhattan, but 
you ought to look up more often.
                                And
always embrace things, people earth
sky stars, as I do, freely and with 
the appropriate sense of space.  That
is your inclination, known in the 
   heavens
and you should follow it to hell, if
necessary, which I doubt.
                          Maybe we'll 
speak again in Africa, of which I too
am specially fond.  Go back to sleep 
  now
Frank, and I may leave a tiny poem 
in that brain of yours as my farewell."

"Sun, don't go!"  I was awake 
at last.  "No, go I must, they're calling
me."  
    "Who are they?"
                   Rising he said "Some
day you'll know.  They're calling to you
too."  Darkly he rose, and then I slept.
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